Family Day Out Review: Snakes And Ladders Playcentre, Dunstable
Snakes And Ladders, Dunstable
Value For Money8.0/10
Variety Of Activities9.0/10
Things We Like
- Very large and fun Under 5's area featuring soft play, construction zone and home corner
- Plenty of seats and tables with central view
- Large, 3-tier play frame has a lot to explore
- Special term time activity sessions are included in the entry price
Things We Dislike
- Required to pay entry for adults
- A little uninspiring in terms of exterior and interior decor
- Have to pay additional money to use the electric bikes
What’s It All About?
Snakes And Ladders is an indoor play centre in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, which features a number of different things for kids from 0 to 12 to play with. There’s a large Under 5’s area with different play frames, a construction zone and an imaginative play corner, a large 3-level play frame for older children and electric bikes to race around on, making it much more than just a bog standards soft play.
What Do We Think?
On arrival at Snakes And Ladders, our first thought was that it didn’t look the most welcoming of places for kids. The building is basically a huge warehouse with glass windows situated on an industrial estate. Had it not been for the drawing of a snake and ladder on the building signage, you could easily mistake it for any other business. It wouldn’t take much to make it a little more enticing for families from the outside.
Things picked up when inside though. After paying at reception, we headed into the large unit and saw what was on offer. Snakes And Ladders comprises of two separate play areas – a dedicated Under 5’s area which spans most of the back wall, and a large, three tier play frame for older kids along the right wall.
The Under 5’s area had a really large footprint and a plethora of things. In total, there were four separate play frames, which were situated in each of the corners. Two of these were set over one tier, whilst the other two were over two levels – good to create a varying degree of difficulty for young kids. Within these play frames, there was a variety of play equipment including a swing, a wrecking ball, slides, steps, ball pools and rope bridges.
But that wasn’t all. The Under 5’s area was also home to a separate ball pit, foam shapes, ride-on vehicles and plenty of space to run around in. There was also a construction zone with DUPLO and large bricks for building, as well as a home corner for imaginative play featuring wooden toys such as an iron, washing machine, sink, hob, oven and coffee maker.
The variety of equipment and toys in the Under 5’s area meant that there was always something different for the kids to play with – everything was in pretty good condition too. Finally, from a safety perspective, you were able to see your child at all times from the tables and the area is fully enclosed, with access being through one gate that small kids are unable to open.
For older kids, or those youngsters finished with the Under 5’s area, there’s a huge, three tier play frame well worth exploring. This is pretty impressive to look at from the outside and equally impressive to play in inside. Within the structure, you’ll find slides, tunnels, a large ball pit, rope climbs, stepping stones, foam obstacles, an area with large gym balls, wacky mirrors, a football pitch and more.
In addition to the two main soft play areas, there’s a number of coin-operated rides dotted around and paid-for electric motor bikes (£1.20). The latter is situated in the far corner between the two play areas and includes a track to drive around. Truth be told, this felt a bit of a wasted area – no-one went on the bikes whilst we were there and we always question whether you’d pay an additional charge for an activity when you’ve already paid to get in – I know we wouldn’t. Perhaps it’s a decent form of additional income for the business, but I’m sure the space could be used for a better purpose.
In terms of facilities, you’ll find a cafe serving food, drink and snacks, separate toilets and baby change facilities. Finding somewhere to sit is certainly not an issue as there’s roughly 50 tables situated in the middle of the venue. We found it to be generally clean, tidy and bright but it was a little uninspiring. For instance, there was no noticeable theme and there was a lack of decoration on the sparse walls, with the only exception being to define the cafe. Similarly to the outside, a bit of a revamp would help massively with the feel of the place.
We were there on a different day, but something we did like the look of was the special term-time activity sessions for preschoolers. These are included in the entry price and allow your child to join in with either a Moo Music class (Tuesday) or an Arty Crafty class (Thursday) which are held at the venue weekly. So, if you’re planning on going on a weekday, you may as well try to time it with one of these sessions to get more for your money.
All in all, we spent a good few hours at Snakes And Ladders and the children enjoyed playing in both the Under 5’s area and on the large play frame. There was also plenty of variety which made it feel more than just a soft play. We think a little more could be done to make the place feel less like a warehouse on an industrial estate, but other than than, it gets plenty of thumbs up from us.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Address: Blackburn Road, Houghton Regis, Dunstable, LU5 5BQ.
Opening Times: 7 days per week, 10am-6pm.
Price: Under 1 Free, 1-2 £4.95 (off-peak) / £6.95 (peak), 2-4 £5.95 (off-peak) / £7.95 (peak), 5+ £6.95 (off-peak) / £8.95 (peak), Adults £1.95 (off-peak) / £2.95 (peak).
Toilets: Yes. Male, Female and Disabled toilets. Baby change facilities available.
Cafe / Restaurant: Yes. The cafe serves hot and cold drinks, snacks and food with a large seating area.
Parking: Yes. Limited free parking spaces available in the car park outside of the building and free parking on nearby roads.
Public Transport: Dunstable Train Station 1.7 miles away.
Duration: 1 to 3 hours.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
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